Butterflies And Republicans
Copyright © by Len Holman, 3/19/13
It seems that there is trouble in Mexico. The Monarch butterfly population is down and this should worry us all, since butterflies are pretty damn good pollinators. The trouble is, of course, humans: farmers in the states where these creatures feed before they migrate are using genetically-modified crops which are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, which allows farmers to use the poison to kill milkweed—which is the Monarchs’ essential food. This is sad on an esthetic level, of course, but butterflies are pollinators, not just some pretty wings. Fruits, nuts, and other crops depend on them, and so do we.
It’s also part of the Monarch mystique that no butterfly who visits Mexico (by the hundreds of thousands) ever comes back—their life span is too short. So how does the next batch of Monarchs make it back to the same place the next year? How does the Monarch collective memory work so that each generation of Monarchs do what their ancestors did if there are no Monarchs around to instruct the future visitors to out neighbor to our south? It’s a mystery which has puzzled science for a long time (something else science can’t get a handle on). And that brings us to the Republican Party, which recently convened its CPAC-2013 in Washington D.C.
There is a ton of commentary on the direction the Republicans must take to turn this country around and put it back on the path of righteousness, rectitude, rifling, and fiscal responsibility. They know they got their butts kicked in the last election and they are hurt, surprised, angry, and confused—but they are not deterred. Most of the movers and shakers of the GOP are Monarch-like in their insistence that things are ok—they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. One wonders how the “new” leaders of the “new GOP” will learn about the Path to election Nirvana if this generation can’t, won’t, or doesn’t know how, to teach them. It’s another mystery science hasn’t gotten a handle on.
One of those “rising stars” of this GOP 2.0 is Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who boldly proclaimed, “We don’t need a new idea. We have an idea. The idea is called America, and it still works.” Heady stuff, Marco, but it made some of the butterflies a little nervous because he was speaking at the same conference which included Donald Trump (Hey, Donald, did your investigators ever get back from Hawaii, brining news of Obama’s missing birth certificate?), Michele Bachman, Mitt Romney (who lost some election or other because of being tone deaf and mannequin-like in public—and having to espouse a message which would have only pleased the Bourbons), Sarah Palin (aren’t your 15 minutes up YET?), and the NRA poster boy for illogical thinking and senescent paranoia, Wayne LaPierre.
This is the generation of Republican leaders which will bring light to the dark caves of GOP thought, which will lead the next group of GOP leaders to the Promised Land? The Monarchs have no problems with “re-messaging” or crafting a different tone or anything subtle. They fly north, feed, fly south have babies and die. Simple, but effective—until we run out of nuts, seeds, plants and foliage that everything else feeds on. Republicans have a much tougher thing to do—make it back to their nesting place without being able to remember where that is, without being able to teach where it is to other of their kind, and when they end of in an arctic pond on election day, to be hurt and tearful as the voters kill them off. This is painful to watch. Do we need Monarchs? The answer is yes. Do we need Republicans? The answer is also yes—with caveats.
We need them if they actually present alternatives to the administration in power; we need them just to balance the hubris and celebrity which mark this President’s tenure, and we need them to present rational, practical alternatives which the American people can consider. We don’t need them if their whole reason for existing is to win the next election or to beat up on whoever is the current front-runner in the polls, or if they are going to take the country back to the Gilded Age or back further than that. My question is whether these Monarchs will impart any new knowledge to those butterflies which will be coming along behind them, or whether the new Monarchs will have to somehow divine on their own where to go and how to get there, and whether voters will provide the herbicide which will kill them off—again. If things continue as they are we will have no nuts because butterflies will not be around to pollinate, but we WILL have nuts if the Old Guard GOP can’t learn the lesson of the Monarchs.
Return to Bylines